Onbehalf of the National Taxpayers Union’s more than 7,800 members in Wisconsin,I urge you to support Governor Walker’s proposal to carefully limit collectivebargaining and to require payments for pensions and health care for most stateemployees.
Thereis no debate that Wisconsin faces serious fiscal challenges. The state mustaddress a $3 billion deficit in the next budget and a $137 million deficit inthe current one. But the state does not have a revenue problem; in fact,Wisconsin already has the ninth-highest state and local tax burden as apercentage of income in the nation, which is higher than the neighboring statesof Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan. Rather, the problem is that the cost ofgovernment is too high and unsustainable.
In order to meet this challengeprudently, Governor Scott Walker has proposed to limit collective bargaining formost state and local government employees, except those responsible for publicsafety, to the issue of wages. Additionally, Gov. Walker proposes requiringpublic workers, who currently contribute nothing toward pensions, to contribute5.8 percent of their pay to their retirement plans and to cover 12.6 percent ofhealth care premiums (up from an average of 6 percent). By enacting thesereforms, the state will have a freer hand and stronger position from which tonegotiate more manageable salaries and benefits for state workers, which willsave money for the taxpayers who foot the bill.
Collective bargaining for public employees was instituted inan era when workers did not enjoy legal protections, competitive salaries, ormany benefits. Now, thanks to anti-discrimination, safety, and workplace environmentregulations and laws, public employees have many safeguards against abuse.Moreover, many state workers now enjoy more job security and better wages than theircounterparts in the private sector, through policies such as automatic stepincreases, defined benefit pension plans, and low health insurance premiums.The unfair and disproportionate costs that can result from unbalancedcollective bargaining simply cannot be sustained, especially in an economy likethis one.
Given the state of Wisconsin’s budget and the difficultchoices that lie ahead, the General Assemblycannot continue to let its hands be tied when it comes to negotiating state salariesand benefits. Therefore, our members hope you will support the Governor’ssensible proposals to save money for taxpayers.
StateGovernment Affairs Manager
CC: Governor Scott Walker